Capstone begins commissioning at Chilean copper project

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Capstone Copper Corp. [CS-TSX] said commissioning activities are underway at its Mantoverde Development Project (MVDP) in Chile, an asset that is expected to increase the company’s consolidated copper production by over 40% with a significant decease in unit operating costs.

“The project is on-time and we reaffirm our $870 million total capital cost guidance,’’ said Capstone CEO John MacKenzie. “This marks an exciting time for Capstone, MVDP is transformational four our business and provides the based for incredible growth in the Mantoverde-Santo Domingo District.”

First ore was introduced to the new concentrator on November 29, 2023. The sulphide copper project is on track to reach nameplate capacity of 32,000 tonnes per day by mid-2024. Mantoverde is expected to produce total copper (concentrates plus cathode) of 98,000 tonnes at a cash cost of US$2.41 a pound in 2024.

Capstone said it plans to apply for a secondary listing on the Australian Securities Exchange. The shares advanced on the news, gaining 2.02% or 13 cents to $6.56. The shares currently traded in a 52-week range of $7.25 and $4.40.

Capstone has previously outlined its asset integration and synergy study plan for Mantoverde and the undeveloped Santo Domingo copper-iron-gold projects, which are located 35 kilometres apart in the Atacama region of Chile

By combining those assets, Capstone aims to create a “world-class’’ mining district targeting over 200,000 tonnes per year of low-cost copper production, with the potential to become one of the world’s largest producers of cobalt outside of the Dominican Republic of Congo.

A key component of the plan is the potential for cost synergies of between $80 and $100 million.

Capstone is a Canadian base metals mining company with a focus on copper.

Its portfolio includes the Pinto Valley copper mine in Arizona, and the Cozamin copper-silver mine in Zacatecas, Mexico, the Mantos Blancos copper-silver mine in Chile and 70% of the Mantoverde copper-gold mine. In addition, Capstone holds a 70% interest in Santo Domingo, a large scale, fully-permitted, copper-iron-gold project, in partnership with Korea Resources Corp.

Following the ramp up at Mantoverde, the company’s next phase of transformational growth will be a construction decision and integration of Santo Domingo. The Santo Domingo project includes upgrades to the existing water and power infrastructure as well as a development scenario for the Santo Domingo port, located approximately 65 kilometres by road from Mantoverde.

The company said its future growth plan includes Mantoverde Phase 11, which envisions an expansion of the sulphide concentrator to process part of the 77% of resources not included in Phase 1, processing Santo Domingo oxides at the underutilized 60,000 tonne per annum SX-EW cathode plant at Mantoverde, as well as the “Mantoverde-Santo Domingo cobalt opportunity.’’

This is a reference to an expected reduction in operating costs (by approximately $45 million per year), achieved by building a cobalt and sulphuric acid production facility at Mantoverde that will process cobaltiferous pyrite produced by both Mantoverde and Santo Domingo.

“The plan would target an increase in district cobalt production by approximately 1,500 to 2,000 tonnes per annum from Mantoverde to a total of 6,000 to 6,500 tonnes per annum, which would make Mantoverde-Santo Domingo one of the world’s largest and lowest cost sustainable cobalt producers outside of the Dominican Republic of Congo and China,’’ the company said in a press release.

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